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3D Printer

What are printers?

A printer is an electronic device that transfers the information and graphics from the computer to paper in the printed form. A printer can be used with mobile phones, personal computers, or laptops.

The output document or a file can be in the form of only text information, graphics or images, or the combination of both text and graphics. We need to provide an input command to the printer attached to the device to produce the output.

What are 3D printers?

3D printers are the hardware devices that produce 3D printing outputs in paper instead of a product. It can also produce a 3D model from ready to print CAD files. It uses less material as compared to other manufacturing processes. The output is generally in the form of a 3D object. 3D printers use a different material, such as stereolithography materials, nylon, photopolymers, etc. that forms the output object.

3D Printer

The common uses of 3D printers are to produce a prototype, miniature models, etc., for testing or development. The term is generally confused with regular printers. But it is different from the traditional printers.

Today, printers are available is wide sizes and prices according to the specific features. Here, we will discuss 3D printers, 3D printing, types of 3D printers, etc.

Let's start.

Printers are commonly classified as 2D printers and 3D printers. Let's first discuss 3D printers in detail.

3D printers do not require any ink for printing. As discussed, the output of the 3D printers is in the form of a 3D model, prototype, or object.

Working on a 3D Printer

We have discussed 3D printers. But, we must be confused about how the printing process works in a 3D printer. The input of a printer requires a file for printing. Various file formats can be used as an input file for a 3D printer. The input file is generally a CAD (Computer-Aided Design) or STL (Standard Triangle Language) file.

It means that the required input file should be a 3D file. We can also use any 3D software to convert a flat file into a 3D file. We can also say that the required file is a blueprint of the object to be formed. The file consists of related information, such as geometry, color compositions, structure, materials, etc. When a file is ready as per the requirements, we can send the file to a 3D printer. The printer uses raw materials, such as resins, thermoplastics, powders, melted solids, etc., to convert that 3D image into a 3D model. The printing process is quick and uses fewer materials than another manufacturing process to produce the same output.

Let's discuss the differences between 3D printers and 2D printers. It will help us to understand the process and applications of both printers.

3D Printers vs. 2D Printers

3D printers are considered better than 2d printers. It is because 3D printers produce the output as a real 3D object rather than printing on paper. On the other hand, 2D printers are easily accessed by anyone to convert the soft copies into hard copies. It is cheap and affordable. But, 3D printers are mostly used in industries and are not affordable.

3D Printer

Let's discuss the differences between 3D printers and 2D printers. It is listed in the below table.

Category 3D Printers 2D Printers
Printing plane 3D printers display the image with respect to the 3D planes as the output 3D product. 2D printers display the image with respect to the 2D plane on the paper.
Use of toners or ink 3D printers do not require any toners or ink. It is based on raw materials that create a copy of the object. 2D printing requires the use of toners or ink to print the text or graphics on the paper.
Material used 3D printers use materials such as resins, thermoplastics, etc. to produce the output 3D object. Traditional 2D printers use ink or canon to print the graphics on paper.
Uses 3D printers are generally used to design manufacturing parts of a product, machine, etc. 2D printers are generally used to create project files, documents, reports, etc.
Skills Required The ready to print CAD file is a 3D file. For this, knowledge of 3D drawing is essential. We can also use any software to convert a flat image into a 3D image. It does not require any skill. 2D printers scan the image or text and use ink to print it on A4 paper.
Applications Jewelry, Construction, etc. Brochures, banners, printed t-shirts, etc.

3D Printing

Most of the 3D printing files are the output of the CAD modules created in the computer system. 3D printing produces a 3D model from a CAD file or other 3D file systems. The material is used to form a layer by layer structure, which further appears as a 3D model. 3D printing is generally a layering process. It means that the output produced is created layer by layer using a particular material. 3D printing can be performed using different materials, such as thermoplastics, powder, melted metals, etc.

Let's discuss the 3D printing technologies. It will help us to clearly understand the materials and the process of different 3D printing technology in various 3D printers.

3D Printing Technology

3D Printer

Various 3D printers vary as per the printer cost, quality, speed, etc. The 3D printers depend on the 3D printing quality of various printers. The different types of 3D printers are listed below:

  • Stereo lithography
  • FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
  • SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)
  • SLM (Selective Laser Melting)
  • LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing)
  • BJ (Blinder Jetting)
  • MJ (Material Jetting)
  • DLP (Digital Light Processing)
  • EDM (Electron Beam Melting)

Let's discuss this in detail.

Stereolithography

SLA or Stereolithography 3D printers have various advantages, such as smooth and quality finish, great details, etc. It is the world's first 3D technology used for 3D printing. It was developed around 1986. SLA uses a solid-state laser to cure the part of the product. But, DLP (Digital Light Processing) can take a shorter time to trace the object's cross-section compared to SLA.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)

FDM technology is based on thermal plastic materials for 3D printing. It is generally a spool of filament that is loaded inside a 3D printer. The brands that use FDM for manufacturing 3D objects are Nestle, BMW, etc. It follows the sanding process and finishing process after the printing. Such a printer also can extrude the objects. The extrusion is carried out through the nozzle and the base.

Fused Deposition Modeling is popular for creating prototype and concept models.

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)

SLS works with a wide variety of materials, such as ceramics, metals, powders, etc. SLS is generally preferred in aerospace manufacturing parts due to its high cost.

SLM (Selective Laser Melting)

SLM is commonly used in mass production and building prototype. The primary difference between Selective Laser Sintering and Selective Laser Melting is the type of feedstock and the power material usage. Otherwise, both the processes are quite similar. SLS uses a different type of materials, while SLM is a process commonly for metals.

LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing)

As the name implies, LOM uses heat and pressure to laminate or fuse plastic and paper parts. The product is further cut using the lasers into the desired shape. It is considered one of the fastest and inexpensive 3D printing processes to create a prototype model.

BJ (Binder Jetting)

The 3D printing process is a layering process. It means one layer is formed at a time. In the Binder Jetting process, a binder is used to fuse the areas. We can say that the binder acts as a bonding material. The common materials used by the BJ are metals, ceramics, etc. The applications of Binder Jetting include sand casting molds and the fabrication of color prototypes.

MJ (Material Jetting)

Material Jetting printers work in a similar way to 2D printers. A layer is build using the printhead droplets (like the ink) that are cooled using UV light. The materials used in the droplets are the photosensitive material. It offers high accuracy with a smooth surface finish.

DLP (Digital Light Processing)

DLP is a similar technology to SLA. It was developed around 1987. DLP is also considered the oldest 3D technology used for 3D printing. It uses modern light sources, such as arc lamps. But, SLA uses an ultraviolet light source. It also prints faster as compared to SLA.

EDM (Electron Beam Melting)

As the name signifies, it uses an electron beam to fuse parts. The electronic beam originates from an electronic laser. The material used is generally metal rather than thermoplastics. Such a process takes place in a vacuum. It is because electron beams can collide with gas or air particles. EDM builds a layer of powder on the part and applies laser after the power is set. The electronic beam causes the powder to melt that further results in the joining of metal parts. 3D printing is a layering process. It continues till the final object is formed.

Types of 3D Printers

Here, we will discuss the types of 3D printers that are based on the 3D technology discussed above.

  • Viper SI2
    It is a 3D printer developed by 3D Systems. It uses resin materials for 3D printing.
    It is based on Stereolithography technology. It is the combination of two solid imagers in one.
    Its features include:
    • Low layer resolution of around 250 microns.
    • High layer resolution of around 75 microns.
    • High printing quality and resolution.
    • Superior quality.
    • Dual resolution.
    • Long-life laser.
    • High resolution even for ultra-small parts.
  • ProJets 3D printers
    It is a 3D printer developed by 3D Systems. The latest series is ProJets MJP 3600. It also offers 3D printing quality but in a compact footprint. Its advantages include high surface finish, supreme accuracy, high flexibility, high performance, quick speed, and ease to use. It allows easy swapping between material modules, which makes it more flexible for use. It also offers easy part processing.
    The parts of the ProJets 3D printers have an excellent smooth finish compared to other 3D printers.
  • iPros 3D printers
    It is a mid-range 3D printer available for 3D printing and manufacturing. Its advantages include outstanding surface finish, resolution, and tolerances.
    It is a 3D printer developed by 3D Systems. It also uses resin materials for 3D printing and is based on Stereolithography technology.
  • Pro X 3D printers
    ProX printers come with sealed powder loading that prevents the printer from any contamination. It also offers recycling that increases operator safety. Its advantages include:
    • High surface quality and performance.
    • Finest details.
    • Integrated precision metal printing solution.
    • Unmatched resolution.
  • Fab Pro 3D printers
    Fab Pro printers are cost-efficient with maintained accuracy, quality, and speed. These printers' cost is 22% less than the average cost of the parts of other printers. Its advantages include simple post-processing, quick production, small layer thickness, and six sigma accuracy.

Advantages of 3D Printers

3D Printer

The advantages of 3D printers are listed below:

  • Flexible printing
    3D printers allow producing a realistic view of the product on paper. It also allows printing complex designs with better visibility.
  • Lightweight
    3D printers today are not bulky. The manufactured parts of the printers are light in weight.
  • Easy to access
    We can easily access the 3D printers. Today, these printers are available with an increased number of local service providers. The local manufacturing makes the product easily available with reduced transportation costs.
  • Cost Effective
    3D printer's usage does not require a team for its operation. The local service providers have reduced the cost of transportation of 3D printers. Thus, we can say that the low transportation cost, lightweight, and easy access of the printers have reduced its cost compared to the traditional printers imported from abroad.
  • Fast design production
    The 3D printers can print objects within hours. It is much faster compared to other machine productions. The design can be printed by ready to print CAD (Computer-Aided Design) files.
  • Right product as per the requirement
    The demand for 3D printers is increasing all over the world. We can produce the right print by using the ready to print CAD or STL (Standard Triangle Language) file.
  • Medicine and healthcare
    3D printers are also used in medicines and healthcare. The 3D printing process provides a 3D model of the patient's body.

Disadvantages

There are also some disadvantages of the 3D printers. Let's discuss some of the most common disadvantages.

  • Limited materials
    The materials used for 3D printing in various 3D printers are limited.
  • Job reduction
    The increased use of machinery has reduced labor costs in both pre-processing and post-processing of the products.

Top Manufacturers of 3D Printers in India

The manufacture of 3D printers in India has reduced transportation costs from abroad, such as China. Today, 3D printers are easily available in various designs and features. Let's discuss some of the top manufacturers of 3D printers in India.

  • 3D Systems
    '3D systems' is one of the top manufacturers of 3D printers worldwide. It also manufactures 3D printing materials, 3D scanners, etc. It takes input from the CAD files or ready to print CAD files, 3D sculpting devices, and other 3D manufacturing software. Its products and services are used in various fields, such as healthcare, automotive, industries, etc.
    3D systems were founded by Chuck Hull in California, who was also the inventor of SLA (Stereoithography).
  • Proto Labs Inc. (PRLB)
    PRLB is considered as the world's fastest source of prototype and parts production. The production is in the form of uploading 3D file format, Per formation of design analysis, manufacturing, and the produced is finally shipped. The PRLB manufacturers send the pricing and design analysis within few hours after the CAD file is received. After the finalization, it manufactures the final product and delivers it to the desired place.
  • FARO Technologies Inc. (FARO)
    The FARO technologies deal in the 3D manufacturing products and imaging solutions across the world. It has FARO software, a handheld mapper, and Scanlan. The handheld mapper captures the 2D floor plans, while the software is CAD and scanner-based.
    The FARO products are used in various fields, such as architecture, construction, cultural heritage, etc.

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